When I went to graduate school in social work, it seemed a natural fit for me. Friends and family will tell you I have always been a sort of no-nonsense kind of girl; always looking for solutions to problems or issues. When I did assessments and counseling I was fairly skilled at working with clients to uncover truths to plan a path forward.
Law school was a different animal for me. Just focusing on the facts, i.e. the evidence only, was challenging. I have always been intrigued by the backstory.
When questioned about the recent shooting of Jacob Blake, Los Angeles Clippers Coach Doc Rivers responded: “It’s amazing to me why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back.” That statement resonated with me: The evidence shows in fact that it is true.
This pandemic, even with its devastating toll, has allowed African-Americans to see clearly how this country feels about us. We are quarantined at home. We don’t have jobs and all manner of other activities that we have to hurry to which tend to divert our attention to the heinous acts committed against us on a daily basis. We are home with our families more, holding them closer and facing the reality that the next injury or death could be them or us. We have time to let that soak in and it is no longer our plan to return to life as it was before this pandemic. We can’t. The stakes are too high.
Does this country want us? Is life different for us in comparison to white Americans? Let’s look at the facts:
· Black women are more likely to receive little or no prenatal care. They face three times the risk of pregnancy-related deaths.
· The infant mortality rate is more than twice that of whites.
· Once born, the percentage of black children living below the poverty line is three times that of whites.
· Due to redlining and discrimination present in the mortgage industry , blacks are less likely to be approved for a mortgage. Owning a home is often the gateway to wealth and middle-class stability. The net income of white households is now 10 times greater than black households.
· In the US, school quality is linked to neighborhood wealth. Schools in mainly white neighborhood received $2,200 more per student than nonwhite schools. This translates into lower educational achievements which is often played out in SAT and school entrance exams, effectively limiting higher education choices, making blacks less likely to go to college. This impacts their income in the job market.
· Black children are more likely to be arrested.
· African-Americans are incarcerated at rates 5.6 times greater than white Americans. African-Americans make up 12 percent of the U.S. population but comprise one third of the inmate population.
Sergio Pecanha who wrote in The Washington Post, “The long list of discrepancies comes together on fatal encounters with the police: Blacks are killed by the police at more than twice the rate of whites. These numbers show that black and whites live in two different Americas.”
The evidence shows that we are set up to fail from the moment we are conceived. Meetings and discussions were held, and official votes taken to create policies to all but guarantee it. It seems Doc Rivers’ words were prophetic: They don’t want us. However, just as Doc's words seem to be prophetic, I believe so too are mine: As far as I can see into the future, there we continue to be. Excelling, even with the odds stacked against us. We aren’t going anywhere.